Two Kinds of Hobby Shops

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Years of shopping for hobby stuff has taught me a couple of things. One is that you can find useful hobby stuff in non-hobby stores.  This can be the dollar store, the hardware store or even the grocery store.  The other important thing, which was reconfirmed this weekend, is that there are two kinds of hobby shops.

There’s the one that’s brightly lit, with organized shelves and clear product areas. The store has the latest products, the least amount of dust and staff who use price guns to stalk the aisles and tell you what something costs.  They also have some cute toys for the youngest children and a good chunk of things for display.

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The other is like the one I went to. The lighting in insufficient and the windows, if there are any are covered over with displays, shelves or curtains that don’t get washed all that often.  This leads to lifting the products up to get a better look at them.

There are clear signs of organization, it’s just more general. Military models in that corner, cars in that corner, trains over there behind the wall, N on the left, HO on the right.”  You might find things in the wrong place, but that is part of the fun.  You might even find a bargain.  If you can’t find it, you ask and the person can take you right to it, and maybe tell you a story about how long they have had it for, where they got it, or how they sold twenty one snow January day.

In addition to all this, the store might have a whole bunch of stuff that you can’t find anywhere. The store I went to was no exception.  It was a treasure trove of stuff.  They had:

  • a whole pile of Tyco and AFX track for sale, including risers and lap counters.
  • a multi pack of N scale figures from Woodland Scenics (more than 16 sets bundled together for a bulk sale–the plastic on the outer pack had yellowed from years of indirect sunlight–but it was still for sale.
  • every scale of train from O right on down to Z.
  • Apollo, Gemini, space station and space shuttle rocket kits.
  • monster models and dinosaur kits.
  • educational models
  • cool prints of train artwork
  • a large number of slots car scales and kits (analog and digital)
  • a whole pile of tools for crafting your hobbies, including spray booths and choppers
  • RC car parts (though I didn’t see any RC cars)
  • New and vintage magazines (some real vintage ones)
  • used electronic parts for trains, slot cars, power boats and ….

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I could go on listing all the things I saw, but the truth is that I probably missed a whole lot more. I spent more than an hour there just wandering around trying to buy something.  The only problem is that I really just didn’t want to.  There was nothing I could justify spending money on because I have a whole room full of half complete or unopened things to do.  I am in a bit of funk and I don’t know how to get out of it.  I thought wandering the hobby shop would help, but it only made me more confused.  Starting a new hobby or a new project is fun…but seeing all the other incomplete projects makes me sad. (I did consider a race car set, and I was looking for a large scale 1964-67 Mustang Kit…and some train cars……..

I walked away with my money in my pocket….for now.

Where Did All This Stuff Come From?

While looking through my unbuilt collection of models I came across a few other boxes.  These boxes fell into three categories.  The parts box, the scratch building box and the other box.  What is all this stuff and where the heck did it all come from?
The parts box or the spares box (there are probably just as many names for this as there are modellers–partners of modellers probably call this the box of crap, but that’s another story) came about from the extra parts that are included with models.  Some models have different parts because they can be build different ways (the 2 in 1 or the 3 in one model).   I have a 57 Fairlane that can be built stock/custom/or with optional parts.  Some have parts left on the parts tree from earlier versions of the model kit.  I have drag bars because one of the 66 mustang kits I’ve built had a previous life as a dragster kit.  I couldn’t throw them out, so now their in the parts box.
The scratch building box is collection of stuff that I thought might one day might fit into my models.  Often I think of building unusual train car loads, or wild science fiction ships. This probably came about from searching out the stuff under the title Maschinen Krieger, or watching the great Japanese TV show Plamo Tsukurou–if you haven’t done so, you should check both of them out.  Either way, I suspect all modellers look at stuff destined for the trash or recycle box the same way.
The last box, which I have labelled the other box, in my case is a bunch of models that I have decommissioned.  Maybe they fell from their shelf in cleaning.  Maybe they broke in one of the many moves I made.  Maybe they weren’t as well done as I would have liked and became euthanized.  In the case of one of my top fuel dragsters, I broke some pieces putting it together and became so frustrated that I stopped building it and sent the strong parts to the box.
So what am I going to do with all of this?  Besides the aforementioned flatcar loads, I have the same dream as many modellers do.  I plan (and plan is a good word, as it may never get beyond the planning stage) to build a great diorama.  These parts will look excellent it that.  These parts will make that diorama look amazing…I hope.  This diorama will most likely be some kind of car shop diorama.  The extra car parts (the tires, the engines, the seats, should all fit in perfectly.  So I guess that means I will be holding onto them for a little while longer.
What about you readers?  What do you do with your parts boxes?  I would love to see some examples.

My initial reactions on having a spray booth

 
I had been planning on purchasing a spray booth for quite some time.  I finally took the plunge and got it set up in my reorganized hobby room.  (See last post for reorganization)  The booth is portable and sets up pretty easily.  I have the complete venting hose so I can run it outside with only a small window crack, which is important when you are living in Canada and it is winter.

My initial reactions are quite positive.  The things that strike me conclusively are:
  • better air quality  (a major plus!)
  • better visibility with the light attachment
  • less overspray

I have only used it twice, but have felt good about it.  There are some things it doesn’t do.  It doesn’t:
  • improve the way I mix the paint and set the air pressure–improperly mixed paints and incorrect settings cause splotches and poorly atomized paint spray.
  • improve my painting technique–practice makes perfect
  • hide my mistakes–you’ll notice that I didn’t use the macro lens.

I certainly don’t regret my decision.  I have other areas to improve upon, but having the right equipment is not a mistake.

Getting Organized

The first step in getting back to my model hobby is to earnestly get my hobby desk in order.  While that sounds like a good idea, until you have to move about 30 small paint bottles, little by little, you don’t realize that this is a bit of an undertaking.
I have included a before and after shot, just so you can see what I am working with.  It isn’t as brightly lit as I would like…but I shouldn’t complain.  It isn’t like I can’t go buy another lamp.
 

Before
If you are interested in my thoughts on organization, and want to read more, please check out my other blog. https://todaysperfectmoment.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/the-better-organized-me/
It isn’t really about hobbies, but some of the better writing I have done lately is there.
More organized
 

As you can see by the shot, I have made the decision to purchase a spray booth.  From a health perspective, this was a no brainer.  While all of the paints I use say they are “non-toxic” I fear that a phrase like that, translate through lawyers and other legal jargon, really means, “not as toxic as poison, so you can’t sue us, but still not great for your lungs.”  I haven’t used it yet, but hopefully today or tomorrow.




Hobby Hacks: Hobby Hack Number One

 
While I am waiting for my model helicopter parts to dry, I thought I would share something with you.  I have decided to call this a hobby hack.  These are useful tips that one can use while making models or other hobbies.

I can’t remember exactly where I bought these clips, but I am pretty sure it was a dollar store.  I can’t guarantee it was in Canadabecause it might have been from a 100 yen shop in Japan.  Sorry.

I am pretty sure I bought them to clamp something together, or hold something together while the glue was drying.  The funny thing is that I have never used them for that.  I think the clips are a bit too strong and could harm or scratch something (probably not, but you never know).  Instead I found a cool use for them.

They make a great stand for parts sprues while they are drying.  Let’s call this hobby hack number one.

Hobby Progress

I just wanted to update people on my hobby progress.  Quite a long time ago I featured the painting of a train building I was working on.  It is finally finished and I thought you would like to take a look at it.

This was the only the second train building I have made, so it is not perfect, but I am happy with the results, and I will continue to make them, hopefully improving every time.  I haven’t added any roof details, but I purchased the kit, so perhaps sometime later today.

I am not sure this will go on my layout, because I am hoping to build better one–perhaps adding some window details or signs. 

The model featured is Design Preservation Model, Haye’s Hardware.  It was painted with Polly Scale paints, and the roof is done with Woodland Scenics coal.

When Something Needs Stirring…

 
 
We’ve all said it.  You’ve said, I’ve said it.  Like I said, we’ve all said it. You buy average tools all the time, and you buy quality tools only once.  Or maybe you said, the right tool makes the job easier.  The question is, do you really believe it?

I was doing some painting yesterday.  I noticed the paint needed to stirred up.  So I reached for my official Tamiya paint stirrer.  Yes, that’s right.  I have an official paint stirrer.  I could have used a tooth pick, but I employed the paint stirring tool.

At a 300 yen price tag (actually I bought it for 240 yen…and I won’t tell you where just in case Tamiya takes their recommended sales price overly seriously) I could have bought a box or two of toothpicks.  All I can really say, is that it was definitely worth it.  Two hundred and forty yen is just shy of three Canadian dollars, when tax is figured in.  Of course, I bought it in Japan, so if I include the price of airfare the overall price really skyrockets.

It isn’t so much that it works better than a toothpick, or that I couldn’t have MacGyvered something similar with a coat hanger, but I just feel that much more purposeful.  I feel like I am really working on a project and that the project is not working on me.  It is one less thing to worry about while I concentrate on the real task.

Sometimes you just need to have the right tools.  In my various hobbies, I have spent the money sometimes, and cheaped out sometimes.  Sometimes I have been creative and found very workable things at dollar stores.  Who knows?  All I know for sure is that the money I spent on the paint stirrers was not a waste.